It was a night to remember. A celebration of Brett Favre’s illustrious career as his number entered the ranks among the likes of Reggie White, Ray Nitschke, and Bart Starr. A Thanksgiving night game at home against the rival Chicago Bears. A chance for the Packers to keep the pressure on Minnesota and control their destiny towards winning a fifth-straight NFC North title.
It turned into a night to forget. Needing a touchdown on the final drive, Green Bay came up just short as the Bears defense stood strong on four straight goal-to-go plays. The Chicago Bears spoiled the reunion by giving the Packers their second straight divisional home loss, 17-13.
Brett Favre said it best during halftime: “This is Green Bay weather. I love it.” These were the kind of games Favre enjoyed the most; he thrived in them. Unfortunately, this year’s team did not agree.
Aaron Rodgers’ struggles continued in the cold, wind, and rain completing just 22 of his 43 passes for 202 yards (a measly 4.7 yards/attempt), one touchdown, and one interception. Chicago Bears cornerback Tracy Porter was eating Aaron Rodgers’ Thanksgiving dinner all night, shutting down James Jones and any other receiver that lined up across from him.
While the pass game was ineffective nearly all game, Eddie Lacy made the most of his opportunities rushing for 105 yards on 17 carries (back-to-back 100 yard rush games for the first time in his career). Lacy had a costly second quarter fumble that led to a Chicago touchdown, but otherwise played a terrific game. He scored the only Green Bay touchdown on a 25-yard screen in the 1st quarter.
The defense started the game as strong as they could, forcing five punts in Chicago’s first five possessions (includin four 3-and-outs). Chicago didn’t get a first down until 1:00 remaining in the first quarter. All signs pointed to another dominant Green Bay victory at home, where Jay Cutler had never won and often experiences hallucinations since he throws it to Packers defenders more than his own team.
2015 Jay Cutler is a different Jay Cutler, however. For how much blame Jay Cutler gets, he (along with Adam Gase) deserves all the credit for the way this Bears offense is playing. For the first time in his career, Cutler did not throw an interception in a game he played against the Green Bay Packers. The end result? A victory.
On Thanksgiving night, the Green Bay Packers out-Cutlered the Cutler. A 1st half fumble and a 4th quarter interception dug the Pack into a hole that Chicago gladly filled in.
Two minutes into the game, Green Bay faced a 4th and 2 at midfield. Correctly, in my eyes, they decide to go for it. Incorrectly, they call a stretch run to get two yards. I may be wrong, but isn’t a straight line the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B? So Tom Clements, please explain to me why making Eddie Lacy run ten yards sideways is the solution to gaining to two yards. First drive, first missed opportunity.
Facing a 3rd and 11 at midfield on the next drive, Rodgers is rolling out to his right and sees Davante Adams get rare separation from a corner. Rodgers fires a strike to Adams only for it to slip through his hands, dropping a first down and then some. Second drive, second missed opportunity.
And it continued like this all game.
Eddie Lacy’s fumble after a big run set up Chicago with great field position and, ultimately, a touchdown. Quintin Rollins dropped the highly-anticipated Jay Cutler interception ball. A missed sack by Damarious Randall on third down kept a Chicago drive alive that ended with a touchdown. The offense blew a golden opportunity for a touchdown after Jeff Janis (who seems to be the only guy making plays) returned a kickoff down to Chicago’s 33 yard line.
On the final drive, Green Bay was facing a 1st and goal from the 8 yard line with :51 left in the game. Four straight passes, four straight incompletions. A dropped ball (well covered by Tracy Porter) by James Jones on third down was the best chance to win the game – and they couldn’t convert.
Closing the Deal
For the third time in the last four games, Green Bay’s offense has faced goal-to-go situations with a chance to win or tie the game. Once again, Green Bay’s offense could not close the deal. The lack of weapons in the pass game continues to be exposed. There’s no tight end threat and there’s no vertical deep threat.
Tom Clements did a good job in the first half offsetting these problems this game by utilizing a plethora of screens and slicing up the Bears dreadful run defense with Lacy and James Starks. Yet, in the second half, he lost sight of what was working.
The Bears defense showed a lot of two-high safeties for most of the game just daring Green Bay to run the ball. They played a six-man box for Eddie Lacy to keep running through. The run game averaged 6.3 yards per carry on the night – that’s a first down every two carries! But Lacy received only three carries after the first possession of the second half. The hottest-hand on the field was cooled down by his own coach.
There’s a problem when an MVP quarterback is leading a team to only 13 points on 12 drives. There’s a problem when wide receivers cannot get open on the outside – week after week after week. There’s a problem when the offense is not on the same page. There’s a problem with play-calling.
This goes without saying but this team has problems. The recurring problem that has hindered this team: inconsistency.
One week, Green Bay re-cements themselves as the leaders of the NFC North by defeating a very good Minnesota team on the road. The next week, they give that lead right back by faltering at home against a sub-.500 Chicago team. The $1 million question: What Green Bay team can we expect to take the field next Thursday at Detroit?
Turnovers: GB 2 / CHI 0
Penalties: GB 3-38 / CHI 12-95
1st Downs: GB 23 / CHI 17
Rush Yards: GB 177 / CHI 107
Time of Possession: GB 28:48 / CHI 31:12